Is a Career in Nutrition Right for You?
From public health to sports nutrition, food science to private practice, health professionals in nutrition can work in many different places, with a variety of responsibilities. But how do you know if working as a nutritionist is the right career path for you?
Nutrition is now regarded as one of the most important aspects of maintaining good health and wellness. Working in nutrition involves expert knowledge on the science of food, and assisting people in reaching positive health outcomes and managing diet-related issues.
Talking about food and healthy eating habits all day, helping people live their best life – sounds pretty great, right? But, before you dive straight into a nutrition course, you’re probably wondering what it is really like to work in nutrition, and how to know if it’s the right career path for you. To answer these questions we’ve spoken to Dr Liz Isenring, professor of Nutrition and Dietetics and founder of LINC Nutrition, who has been working as a nutritionist for over 20 years.
Dr Liz began her career in a hospital setting, thinking she would be there for life. “Little did I realise that as a dietitian and nutritionist I’d help people with cancer, run research trials, teach students, publish scientific papers and be invited around the world to speak on nutrition and wellness.”
“Nutrition and dietetics is a fascinating field”Dr Liz Isenring
What makes a good nutritionist?
The career opportunities for a nutritionist are vast and varied, and there are aspects which would be rich and rewarding for almost anyone. Do any of these traits sound like you?
Analytical and like to understand how things work
Driven to help people
Interested in food and healthy eating
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
Dr Liz suggests that, “If you love food, cooking, science and health and are motivated to help people, then nutrition and dietetics may be the profession for you.”
Nutritionist and Dietitian Careers in Australia: A Beginner’s Guide
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about the field of nutrition and dietetics and tells you the steps you need to take to become a nutritionist or dietitian.
What does a nutritionist do?
In Australia, the term ‘nutritionist’ refers to a broad range of nutrition services, including dietitians. Your responsibilities and where you work will depend on the type of qualification you get, so be careful if you’re deciding between free and paid nutrition courses.
Nutritionists may work in clinical settings, meeting one-on-one with clients to manage diet-related matters such as allergies, digestion problems, sports nutrition or weight management. Nutritionists also work in public health, policy-making, research and community health roles. Product development and food service industries also draw on the skills and knowledge of nutritionists.
In her career, Dr Liz has had professional experience in many of these settings.
“I’ve worked as a clinical dietitian in hospitals helping people impacted with cancer get through their treatment and reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
“I’ve worked as a researcher investigating the effects of different diets and supplements on health outcomes. I’ve published guidelines and scientific papers that are accessed by over 40 countries and has led to improved care for hundreds of thousands of patients.
“As a Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, I’ve taught the next generation of nutrition and dietetic professionals at universities.”
Nutritionist vs Dietitian: What’s the difference?
Clinical dietitians are differentiated from other nutrition professionals in Australia through membership to the Dietitians Association of Australia as Accredited Practising Dietitians. Clinical dietitians primarily work in hospital settings, helping people with health problems, including heart disease and diabetes, or those recovering from illness. Accredited practising dietitians are nutritionists, and may perform similar tasks to other nutrition and dietetics health professionals, but with an emphasis on evidence-based practice which often requires postgraduate education.
We asked Dr Liz, what are the pros of a career in nutrition and dietetics? Here’s what she had to say:
And what about the cons?
“The only con I can think of is because nutrition is so popular there are more graduates than advertised jobs. This is not necessarily a problem if you are passionate, determined and create your own opportunities,” Dr Liz says.
“With all the nutrition-related problems there is no shortage of need and hopefully positions will improve in the future.”
How do I become a nutritionist?
If you’re ready to get into the workforce as soon as possible, certificate IV and diploma programs can get you there in under a year! Alternatively, these courses can be used to build a foundation for further study.
To become a clinical dietitian, or gain more in-depth expert knowledge of health science in the field of nutrition, higher education such as a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree might be the way to go.
For detailed info about your nutrition and dietetics career path, check out How to Become a Nutritionist: Your Ultimate Guide.
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